NBA Playoffs: Mavericks rookie Derek Lively II is said to be ‘OK’ after taking a violent knee in Game 3

Dallas Mavericks center Derek Lively left a 116-107 win over the Timberwolves after suffering an inadvertent knee hit to the back of the head from Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.

The incident occurred in the second quarter with Dallas leading 43-33. Lively fell backwards toward the court after contesting a missed jump shot by Mike Conley. As he fell down the court, the back of his head collided with Towns’ right knee as Towns jumped to try to block the rebound.

Lively’s head shot forward, remaining on the field for several moments. He was eventually able to stand up and leave the field with the help of his teammates. He was clearly confused and headed straight to the locker room.

the The Mavericks described him as questionable In the first half with a sprain in the neck before He was excluded in the third quarter. He left the field after the match to undergo x-rays to determine the severity of his neck sprain. According to ESPN’s Tim McMahon. He was not in the NBA’s concussion protocol as of Sunday night.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday morning Test results on Lively’s neck came back “okay.” But the Mavericks called him “questionable” for Game 4.

Besides the immediate concern about his health, losing Lively on Sunday and possibly beyond is a huge blow to the Mavericks.

Derek Lively II left the first half of Sunday's playoff game between the Mavericks and Timberwolves after taking a knee to the back of the head.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Derek Lively II left the first half of the Mavericks’ playoff game with the Timberwolves on Sunday after taking a knee to the back of the head. (AP/Julio Cortez)

The 12th pick of the 2023 draft out of Duke, Lively has been a revelation for the Mavericks as a key contributor in their run to the Western Conference Finals. An All-Rookie Team selection, Lively averaged 8.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 blocks off the bench in 14 playoff games before Sunday.

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His defense and presence in the position were invaluable as Dallas beat the Los Angeles Clippers and the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the postseason. He recorded 11 points, 15 rebounds and a +26 in the plus/minus column in the Mavericks’ Game 6 win over the Thunder in the second round. He has yet to miss a field goal in two-plus games against Minnesota while shooting 13 of 13 from the field.

Per TNT, his +108 in the postseason is the second-best plus/minus for a rookie since 1997. A 7-1 center, his presence is key against a Timberwolves team that features a top three in Towns, Rudy Gobert and Naz Reid.

Dallas entered Game 3 with a 2-0 lead after winning Games 1 and 2 in Minnesota. The Mavericks, behind Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s 66 points, cruised to a nine-point win in Game 3 on Sunday night. That gave them a 3-0 lead in the series, and now they are just one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since winning the title with Dirk Nowitzki in 2011. The Mavericks will have a chance to pick up the series win at home in the game. 4 Tuesday night.

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